The First Acting Roles These 7 Hollywood Stars Ever Landed

They started from the bottom, and now they're here. But where were these seven celebrities before they landed their first big breaks?
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Everybody has to start somewhere–even the biggest stars in Hollywood. But what kinds of roles were these megawatt actors getting before landing their big breaks? Read on to find out how some of today’s most incredible performers got their start in the acting world.

Kerry Washington


Kerry Washington is known for playing Olivia Pope on ABC’s Scandal, a role she held from 2012-2018. But before she became one of the most recognizable stars in the country, she was just an aspiring actress growing up in The Bronx.

44-year-old Washington’s first role was coincidentally also for ABC. The made-for-TV film was called Magical Make-Over, and it aired in 1994.

Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett Johansson

Before she was Marvel’s Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson was just another kid growing up in New York City. Like Kerry Washington, Johansson also had dreams of being a performer.

ScarJo’s first leading role was in a 1996 film called Manny & Lo, in which she played the younger sister of a teenager who runs away from home. Young Scarlett earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination for that role, setting her up for an incredible career in Hollywood.

Adeel Akhtar


Adeel Akhtar is an acclaimed performer from London. He has starred in many BBC series and films, and he also has an impressive background in stage performance.

The 40-year-old actor’s first major role was alongside Don Cheadle and Guy Pearce in Traitor, a spy thriller film from 2008. Akhtar played Hamzi in the film. Today, Adeel Akhtar is caught up in the excitement of being a star of Netflix’s Sweet Tooth.

Letitia Wright


27-year-old Letitia Michelle Wright is set to reprise her role of Shuri in the 2022 sequel to Black Panther. Wright was raised in London, where she developed a passion for acting after watching Keke Palmer in 2006’s Akeelah and the Bee.

Wright’s first roles came in 2011. She appeared in Holby City, a British medical drama that airs weekly on BBC One. That same year, she landed her next part on a show called Top Boy, which is a crime drama series in Britain.

Jason Sudeikis

Ted Lasson Season 1

Comedian and actor Jason Sudeikis is ruling the streaming TV world with Ted Lasso right now, and he’s always a delight whenever he shows up in films and TV shows. Many know that this 45-year-old came up through Saturday Night Live, but what was he up to before that?

Sudeikis was an improv comedy guru in the 1990s. He worked in Chicago as an improviser, building teams and performing shows across the country until SNL noticed him and gave him a chance as a writer. From there, they realized his talent as a performer, as well, and things have been coming up Sudeikis ever since.

Jennifer Coolidge


What’s your favorite Jennifer Coolidge role? Is it her recent turn as Tanya McQuoid in The White Lotus? Or perhaps, like many people, your favorite Coolidge character is Paulette Bonafonté Parcelle in Legally Blonde.

Well, before any of that, the incomparable Jennifer Coolidge actually got her start on an episode of Seinfeld! The episode was called “The Masseuse,” and it aired in 1993.

Anthony Mackie


Anthony Mackie is well-known for playing Falcon in the Captain America films, but the Juilliard-trained actor who graduated in 2001 didn’t land such super roles right away. One of his first jobs in 2002 was working as an understudy to Don Cheadle in a play called Topdog/Underdog.

A little later that year, though, Mackie landed the iconic role of Papa Doc in 8 Mile. If you’ve seen his performance in that film, you might be shocked to learn it was his first movie role. All that theater training really paid off for Mackie.